Joy Berry: RE-Visioning Ends…A New Way in Faith Development Begins!

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Ready for what’s next? After four productive, inspiring sessions of congregational conversation, we are ready to roll out some changes to our program of Lifespan Religious Education, this Fall!  Thanks to all who contributed their time and energy to help give us a shared vision as we move forward. Here’s what you need to know about new opportunities and activities for an integrated faith development program at 9:15, and our planned schedule of classes at 11:15.

9:15 RE becomes a time for all ages to grow together in faith, come September.  Yes, adults can now experience RE on Sunday mornings! Check out the bulletin board in Sandburg Hall for the options we are currently offering (dependent upon recruitment). For now, we know we will have a rotating schedule each month, with the following All Ages activities available at least one Sunday morning each month:

  • Worship + Social Justice 
  • Yoga
  • HymnSing
  • Spirit Play + Drama
  • Miracles and UU–a Tapestry of Faith class.

What does All Ages mean? Any registered adult may attend, any registered child or youth may attend–and they can come together or separately. You can come alone or with your child or grandchild or partner to an activity; parents can attend one activity while their child attends another.

Please note: Registration for the All Ages Activities above is for the 9:15 program in general: once that is completed, attendees may attend any all ages class at early service.  We’ll also be offering K/1st OWL (8 sessions) in late Winter at 9:15–you’ll need to register children separately for that class. This year, we will not use MyInfo to register–we are moving to Google Forms. 

2016-17 RE Registration will be open today (5/19)! Just click here

Want to get involved in 9:15 RE?

We have a few opportunities to offer–come grow with us!

  1. We’d love to offer a dedicated MakerSpace activity, tinkering and building and engineering projects with real tools for 4th graders and up. This could be a great place for youth to bond and grow, for families who want to attend first service only, but want something at that time targeted to their older kids/youth. Read more about MakerSpace as faith development here, on a blog the UUA published about our program: We are in conversation now about constructing several Little Free Libraries and Little Free Blessing Boxes this year, sharing books and the kind of care packs we made in RE this year. This would combine hands-on work with social justice–perfect for kids! We may also have a chance to work on a film editing project–stay tuned, and let me know if this is the kind of faith development you’d like to be involved in.
  2. We are looking for leaders for our most popular activity center, Contemplation. This is a space dedicated to helping us learn healthy contemplative habits, and is often a quiet place filled with children sewing, stringing beads, setting up their own prayer or meditation altar, creating sacred spaces with special blocks, reading, or creating mandalas. We’d like to open this self-directed activity to all ages on one or two Sundays each month.
  3. The “Parents as Primary Sexuality Educators” class we offered this Spring was a HUGE success. The parents who attended this class bonded, laughed, worried, and eventually felt more confident about  talking with their kids about sex, relationships, puberty, and more with their kids! In fact, this class immediately converted to a Parent Covenant group, a sign of success at bringing congregants together in a way that helps build what I call “sticky faith”–a sense, built through diverse connections, that this faith community is a priority in one’s life! We’d like to offer it again in the Fall–you don’t have to be OWL trained to lead it,nor do you have to have a kid in an OWL class concurrently. The ,class leader is really a facilitator for the discussions and activities, not a teacher. RE staff mostly led this class this Spring, but we need others to do so this time. Let us know if you’d be willing to teach, even if just a few sessions, sharing the task with your fellow classmates–offering this class is a priority!

11:15 programming looks almost the same as usual.
K-3rd graders will attend Spirit Play, and 4th-12th grade classes will be offered, including OWL for 7th/8th graders, Coming of Age for 9th/10th graders, and YRUU (Youth Group) for 10th-12th grades. Details below:

4th/5th Grade will work with Sing to the Power, a 16 session UU Identity curriculum that uses the earth’s elements and an exploration of how powers such as listening, persistence, action, and flexibility enhance our agency and ability to change the world. The class will also use a Wisdom from Hebrew Scriptures curriculum to build their foundational understanding of Judeo-Christian faith. Through discussion that helps them understand the cultural context of stories from the Old Testament, kids will use critical thinking skills, exploring what the stories meant and mean to the people for whom they were written. They will also have a chance to reflect on UU values while acting out the Bible stories–first, as written, and then, with a UU twist that helps them understand key similarities and differences between UUism, Judaism, and Christianity.

6th graders (and 7th and 8th graders NOT in OWL–see below) will enjoy Neighboring Faiths. This curriculum focuses on learning about and then experiencing other faiths and ways to worship, right here in our local community, by going out to those communities of faith and experiencing them directly. In Spirit Play, we learned about the stories and mythic dimensions of other religions; nowwe turn our attention to the experiential or emotional dimension: what does it feel like to be part a worship service in another faith community? And we consider the social component: how should we behave so that we fit in as well as possible to another faith community’s social structure? Finally, in this course we directly experience the material or artistic dimension: when we visit another faith community, what beauty do we experience, what art and architecture, what music, what smells, what tastes, what movement or comfort or discomfort?” (Dan Harper, author). Each of several diverse neighboring faiths is explored for three Sundays in a row: on the first, we learn about it; then we go out and experience it; finally we take time to discuss and share how the experience was for us. We believe such careful consideration of other religious experiences enlightens and opens our minds to the value of diverse worldviews–and to the commonality of the human search for truth and meaning.

7th and 8th grades will have the opportunity to take Our Whole Lives (OWL), with full recruitment. While Our Whole Lives is secular, it is not value-free. The program gives clear messages about the following key sexuality issues: self worth, sexual health, responsibility, and justice and inclusivity. Our Whole Lives recognizes and respects the diversity of participants with respect to biological sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, and disability status. The activities and language used throughout the program have been carefully chosen to be as inclusive as possible of this human diversity. 7th and 8th graders not in OWL: see Neighboring Faiths for middle school grades (6/7/8), above.

9th and 10th grades will have Coming of Age, a program meant to support and mark a time when youth are coming to a fuller understanding of themselves as individuals on a journey that includes their religious and faith exploration. CoA students develop and share their personal credos (what I set my heart to) in a special worship service  in the Spring, and a special Summer trip that enhances their understanding of UUism and their own faith. UUCA’s CoA class has been an important part of so many youth’s experience here; it serves as the last standard RE class and youth go on from there to senior high youth group. 

11th and 12th graders will have YRUU, a special program meant to help high schoolers bridge from RE classes to the life of the congregation before they graduate. Our goals are to include multigenerational relationships, shared covenantal leadership, justice making, Beloved Commuity, pastoral care, faith exploration, spiritual development, and identity formation i our time together. One Sunday each month is dedicated to worship and talkback with a minister, social justice, small group ministry, and the ministry of the feast (cooking and eating a meal together). YRUU youth have opportunities to take part in an array of activities in the church, building connections to the congregation and the larger faith as they move toward adulthood.

Ready to register? We are using Google Forms this year.

2016-17 RE Registration will be open today (5/19)! Just click here

Want to help or get involved at 11:15? We need teachers and advisors at every level, and more people willing to be mentors for CoA! See the bulletin board in Sandburg Hall or stop by the RE table this Sunday, 5/22, for our final day of conversation with RE staff and parents, information and recruitment. We would love to help you find the place where you will be transformed, learning and growing in the ministry of faith development!